Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn

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Blakely: NFL has new deal; NBA, it's your turn

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
BOSTON The NFL and its players have come to terms on a new deal, just in time to avoid doing very little harm or damage to the league's image moving forward.

If only the NBA can be that lucky.

In the coming months, it's inevitable that comparisons will be made between the two leagues and the issues that ultimately led to work stoppages in both sports.

Don't be fooled.

The truth is, the NBA has it worse - a lot worse - than the NFL.

One league is making money (NFL) and was trying to figure out the best way to divvy up the dinero among all the outstretched hands.

And to think, it took them 137 days and they're making money, folks!

The NBA is trying to change the way money is distributed, with the goal being to set up a system that essentially guarantees profits.

"I'm dreaming" by Christopher Williams immediately comes to mind whenever I think of the owners and that pie-in-the-sky goal.

Meanwhile, the players would much rather see things stay as they are, which is understandable when the average NBA player makes north of 5 million a season.

Clearly the deal to be made is somewhere in between, but getting there won't be easy.

For the NBA to have a new collective bargaining agreement in place in the same amount of time it took the NFL, we'd be looking at rejoicing in the season to be on Nov. 14 which means even if they finished at the same rate as the NFL, games would be missed.

And with both sides nowhere close to reaching an agreement, it is setting the stage for what will likely be a very acrimonious, drawn out labor battle that in the end, is sure to do more harm than good to the league.

Forget about the name-calling and all that other nonsense that has gone on and will continue to in varying degrees as both sides draw out the lines for battle. Even as both sides steadily point the finger at the other for holding up a deal getting done, it won't matter.

Fans ultimately could care less about who is the blame.

The only thing fans know for sure now, is that everything they have seen, read and heard thus far indicates that the NBA won't start on time and that the potential for an entire season to be lost, is very real.

For Celtics Nation, this isn't as big a concern here as it is in some other small to mid-size markets.

Winners of 17 NBA titles - more than any NBA team - the Celtics have a strong global fan base.

Take the Oklahoma City Thunder.

While Oklahoma City isn't exactly the most exciting city on the NBA circuit, they have some of the best pro basketball fans that you'll find.

In a market so heavily entrenched in college football, the Thunder's fan base might look radically different - and a hell of a lot smaller - if an entire NBA season passes by without any games.

That's not good for business, for players, but maybe most important, for fans.

Without them, there would be no interest in the NBA, no need for shoe companies to fight over the next big this or that or for those ridiculous (faux) reality TV shows involving ex-spouses, girlfriends, whatever you want to call them, of former and current professional basketball players.

No one is diminishing the fact that getting a new collective bargaining agreement is no easy task for the NBA, even when the money was rolling in for players and owners alike. Yes, we'll talk about Basketball Related Income and guaranteed contract years and mid-level exceptions and salary caps, hard or soft.

It's all nice to know, but fans don't give a damn about that stuff.

When are the games coming back, and when can I get tickets? That's what they truly care about.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the players and owners.

While we all would love to see the NBA as just a game, the league is clearly more than that. It is a multi-billion industry that has made a lot of folks rich over time. But often overlooked at times like this when we talk about the league's growth, is the growth in its fan base.

One of the first owners to speak following the NFL and the league's players union striking an agreement, was Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Among his first comments was to apologize to the fans.

It was a classy move by Kraft to take note that while the deal certainly is one the owners and players feel good about, there was still a loser in all this - the fans - who had to endure months of uncertainty about a game they love to follow.

Fortunately for them, the games will go on and the NFL's image didn't get dinged up too bad in the process.

Will the NBA be that lucky?

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Dallas' Nerlens Noel.

BOSTON -- When the Celtics had trade talks with Philadelphia last season, it was no secret they had their eyes set on Nerlens Noel.
 
The 23-year-old has shown tremendous potential as an elite, rim-protecting big man.

THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS


The Dallas Mavericks saw those same qualities, which is why they engineered a trade for him last season despite knowing he would be a restricted free agent this summer.
 
And while he would certainly be the kind of player Boston would absolutely love to add to the mix, seeing the Mavericks go in a different direction seems highly unlikely.
 
But until he signs with the Mavericks or any other team, the Celtics can’t be totally discounted as a possibility if they strike out on Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin.
 
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
 
His proven body of work and his potential. Noel has shown flashes of being a decent player offensively, but he’s going to get paid handsomely this summer because of his defense and rebounding.
 
According to Basketball-reference.com, Noel has been among the NBA’s top 10 in defensive box plus/minus two of his three NBA seasons.
 
During the 2014-15 season, his defensive plus/minus was +4.5 (fourth in the NBA) and the following season it was +3.4 (eighth in the NBA).
 
And while his upside is viewed primarily through a defensive prism, his presence on the floor seemed to provide a much-needed jolt to the Mavericks offensively.
 
In his 22 games with Dallas, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with a solid offensive rating of 106.1.
 
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
 
You love Noel’s length and athleticism, but you wish he would add some weight to withstand the physical rigors of playing primarily in the post. In an ideal world, Noel will add another 10-15 pounds, which would put him weight-wise similar to another standout Maverick from a few years back, Tyson Chandler. But Noel’s narrow shoulders and pogo-stick thick legs will likely result in his current 228-pound frame not changing much in the near future. He will still be a factor defensively, but there will be nights when stronger, more physical centers will give him problems. Fortunately for him and the Mavericks, big men whose strength is well, their strength, are becoming scarce in this new age of position-less basketball in the NBA.
 
IN CONCLUSION . . .
 
Noel would look really good in a Celtics uniform, but there’s little to no chance the Mavericks allow him to get away. They've made it clear that re-signing the 6-foot-11 big man is their top priority. And short of Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry saying they want to become a Maverick, it’s highly unlikely Dallas will change course.
 
PRICE TAG
 
Four-year, $106.4 million. That’s the most a team outside of Dallas can offer the soon-to-be restricted free agent. Noel knows the Mavericks won’t hesitate to offer him a max contract, which would give him more guaranteed years (five), better raises (eight percent versus five percent) and a total package of $143.55 million, which is more than $37 million beyond what other teams like the Celtics can offer.
 
Again, something would have to go unexpectedly wrong for Noel to wind up on any roster other than the Mavericks.